Designing for Wellbeing: Realizing Benefits for Patients through Best Practice Hospital Design

The environmental design of healthcare facilities has been shown to directly affect the wellbeing of patients and their families.

Image: The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice by NORD Architecture

Poorly designed environments exacerbate patient anxiety and stress and diminish their healthcare experience. Environments designed to support a patient’s wellbeing result in improved health outcomes.

Building upon Australia’s international leadership in contemporary hospital design, this project will evaluate, prioritize and strategize the best means for realizing benefits of environmental design factors that contribute most significantly to achieving positive outcomes for patients and families. It will achieve this through a comprehensive comparative case study analysis of new Australian paediatric hospitals.


The project aims to:

  1. Map current and emerging approaches to the design of public, patient and treatment spaces in healthcare facilities in Australia;
  2. Identify actual and perceived factors in the design of such spaces that promote and progress wellbeing, identifying examples of best practice;
  3. Examine the impact that new approaches are having in contemporary healthcare design in practice through patient, public and professional response; and better understand through such evidence based research the social, economic, health and architectural advantages of a fully-informed and strategically designed healthcare eDesnvironment; and
  4. Understand the which key design and environmental factors in patient wellbeing can be most effectively realized through design evaluation and strategy to ensure the optimized design of hospital environments as intrinsic support to clinical care.

In pursuing these aims, the project will have the following outcomes:

  1. Development of a framework of design and environmental factors that can contribute to and can affect patient wellbeing;
  2. Development of a comparative understanding of the relative importance of these environmental factors in promoting patient health and wellbeing;
  3. Development of translational design strategies and evaluative methods to best realize future healthcare environments that make a distinct and positive contribution to the wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff;
  4. Creation of working forums to convey the research findings to various government, healthcare and design agencies;
  5. Raising the recognition and profile of the role of design and the built environment in achieving best practice in patient wellbeing within healthcare environments; and
  6. Contributions to relevant scholarly literature.

Project details

Major Sponsor

Australian Research Council
Linkage Grant Project no: LP140100202

Research Partners

University of Melbourne

Project Team

Prof Julie Willis (University of Melbourne)
Prof Philip Goad (University of Melbourne)
Prof Corbett Lyon (University of Melbourne, Lyons)
Prof Alan Pert (University of Melbourne, NORD)
Scalzo Stefano (Lyons)


Prof Julie Willis